Off To A Good Start

As far as I’m concerned the 2021 gardening season is now up and running.  The few winter growers which I dare grow outside are starting to show signs of life, nudged along by a fall that gave us plenty of warm enough days and above freezing nights, and it’s nice to see things sprouting up all fresh and full of promise.  Back in the day a lot of these things waited until February or March to do anything, but lately they’ve come on earlier and earlier, and I won’t complain.  Actually who am I kidding?  Of course I’ll complain.  A brutal polar vortex in February, a foot of snow in March, hail in April… I can’t think of a single gardener who just smiles and shrugs these things off.

fall galanthus elwesii

Galanthus elwesii ‘Potter’s Prelude’ is finally open, oddly late since many of the other fall and winter bloomers were earlier this season.

These earliest of snowdrops were always an issue of discontent for me.  For years I would buy bulk bags of elwesii and then grumble as more southern gardeners would gloat over the random fall bloomers which would show up in their mix.  They didn’t actually gloat, but when year after year I got nothing it started to seem like it.  Then one year we had a long fall and a lackluster start to winter, and suddenly there were snowdrops up in December rather than March.  It’s always the same few, and they unfortunately don’t hold up well when the cold does settle in, but it’s fun to see them and I do feel a little better about my luck again.

fall galanthus elwesii

An early snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii), one of just a few which try to beat winter rather than patiently wait it out.  

As you probably already know, our lackluster winter is finally making an effort.  It’s about time I guess, so what better way to celebrate than to finally plant the daffodils, tuck in the last few perennials, and then set up the winter garden for some indoors enjoyment.  Fingers crossed the daffodils survive their hasty planting, but it’s not the first time they’ve suffered this kind of abuse so they should be used to it by now.

winter garden

Dry and cool is how I keep all the succulents.  Without watering they don’t grow much, and if they’re not growing much they don’t get all stretched out and spindly, even under less than perfect lighting.

The winter garden in the old workshop in the back of the garage only has about half the shop lights going so far.  As more plants magically appear and seedlings start and bulbs sprout I may add to that, but at the moment there’s no real plan, and it’s just a nice place to putter around in with a few things growing while snow falls outside.

winter garden

This year there are more Cyclamen coum and fewer other cyclamen species and snowdrops.    

My current favorites are the cyclamen coum.  Even though they do just fine outside in the open garden, indoors they’ll flower for a month or two during the bleakest months of January and February, and make for an excellent show that can be thoroughly enjoyed after dark during the week or with a nice morning coffee on the weekend.  I do enjoy announcing that I’ll be in the winter garden with drinks, and that I need to sweep up the camellia petals or water the tree fern.  It all sound pretty fancy if you ask me… even if others in this household seem less than impressed.

winter garden

The reality of the winter garden is a bit more gritty than an actual sun filled conservatory, but until a glasshouse moves up and becomes a budget priority it will have to do.

Re-opening the winter garden came just in time.  It’s been snowing since later this afternoon and by tomorrow morning we could have anywhere from a foot to a foot and a half.

winter snow

It’s going to be a white Christmas 🙂 with snow this week and cold next, this won’t be going anywhere soon.  

Hope all is well and you’re staying safe.  I’ve got the shovels ready, gas for the snow blower, and the snowdrops are covered with buckets, so I think we’re ok.  Tomorrow will hopefully be a nice snowday with a late breakfast, and just maybe I’ll be able to sneak the coffee out to the winter garden and admire cyclamen before the kids and dog want to “help” with the snow.

15 comments on “Off To A Good Start

  1. Ian Lumsden says:

    That indoor work area looks pretty perfect for winter. And what a winter with the snow surging in. We’ve been promised some for Christmas though I’ll believe it when I sleigh in it. Cyclamen coum are pretty things. I’m afraid their cousins, Hederifolium, smothered a lot of ours though I’m building up supplies. Stay warm and enjoy Christmas.

    • bittster says:

      All the best to you as well.
      I would guess the indoor winter garden here compares well to your entire outdoor garden, although with a slightly lower chance of rain 😉
      Today is fantastic sunshine, no wind and the sparkle of snow everywhere. Even in the outdoor garden winter can be tolerable here… in limited doses of course.

  2. Paddy Tobin says:

    The snowdrops always make a good start to the year and, I agree with your completely, Cyclamen coum is a great plant. It self-seeds generously here which is great but also makes it almost impossible to keep one with particularly well-marked foliage separate and going. I simply leave them to their own devices and enjoy them as they are. That ‘Potter’s Prelude’ seems to be a good grower.

    • bittster says:

      That’s probably the best way to enjoy cyclamen, just leave them to their own devices and see what happens. Even if I control the crosses and make an effort at keeping the labels straight, the seedlings are still wonderfully mixed.
      ‘Potters Prelude’ is a good grower like many of the G.e. monostictus are. I have trouble telling them all apart!

      • Paddy Tobin says:

        I regularly see postings of ‘Potter’s Prelude’ on Facebook snowdrop groups but it is one I have not seen in the flesh. It seems like an excellent plant. At times we have bought named cyclamen but have not bothered to do so in some time as they self-seed so generously and, to be honest, many of the seedlings are as good as anything we might buy and better fun for the fact that they arose naturally in the garden.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Ahhh, the respite room. Cool as it might be it is a sight for snow tired, winter worn eyes. Fun all of those cyclamen. I wondered if your area was being covered with snow. What a nice happening for this time of year. A snowy Christmas. Have fun and don’t throw out your back.

    • bittster says:

      The snow is down, walks are cleared and now the sun and cold are sharing the morning. It’s beautiful until it wears out its welcome lol
      We ended up with about a foot. Just an hour or so North of us they went over three feet so I far prefer our end of the storm 🙂

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Ah, nice winter garden retreat, Frank. I love the green walls, complements and soothes the eye (incidentally, my living room is about that same color, GMTA right?)
    I guess you like operating under pressure, getting those daffs in at the last minute. 😉
    Enjoy the winter wonderland, we’re at 18″+ and counting. What a storm! White Christmas it is!

    • bittster says:

      I think we dodged the worst of the storm over here with just about a foot. It looks great now that the sun is out, and should be perfect for a stay at home, cozy Christmas. My opinions on Christmas snow are much different than March blizzards 🙂
      The green paint is leftover from a way back outside furniture project. Once it was on the walls I was shocked by how much I love it so kuddos to you for knowing enough to do it on purpose!

  5. pbmgarden says:

    Just beautiful. I always associate you with cyclamen. Someday I’ll get around to planting cyclamen coum outdoors. For now a few neglected pots of indoor cyclamen are making an effort. Enjoy your holidays!

    • bittster says:

      Happy Holidays to you as well!
      Your neglected indoor cyclamen are also quite excellent. I worry that if I added a few to my indoor garden they would outshine the little coums and make them all look a little plain… but I know one of these days I’ll have to try a few 🙂

  6. I’ve got big southern exposure windows but furniture and carpet in the way prevent me from doing much winter gardening. So I love your setup and the look of your plants and that green wall in the back. We’ve had such cold weather on and off that I don’t think any of my snowdrops even thought about emerging. Yours look terrific. Will you plant the cyclamen outdoors in the spring? And are they seedlings you started indoors or ones your brought inside for winter? I’ve already made one tiny plant order and signed up for an online garden lecture series. So 2021 gardening has begun here as well.

    • bittster says:

      The green wall is nice, isn’t it? It was leftover paint and it surprised me how much I like it, so there’s a possibility all the walls will take on the same shades some day 🙂
      The cyclamen are all the same plants from last year’s winter garden. They go dormant in a protected spot outside for the summer and then come back inside each winter. For the past two years I’ve been trying to boost the numbers by collecting the seeds and sowing them but there’s always some little disaster to set things back. Last year when I looked a little closer I discovered almost all the seed pods had been hollowed out by mice!

  7. Cathy says:

    You have been lucky to get a peak of your snowdrops before the snow arrived. The winter garden is looking good. A nice place to retreat with a cup of something warm. 😃 Lucky you, getting a white Christmas!

    • bittster says:

      Winter is always a lot of fun when it first shows up, but give me a few weeks and that opinion might change! Cozy is always good though, and a cup of something warm can almost always help. Enjoy the season!

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